When ignoring anti-LGBTQ harassment doesn’t solve the problem, and talking back results in violent abuse, and the police aren’t willing to intervene, what’s a community to do?
Vancouver’s West End may have found the solution: a dance party.
West End downtown Vancouver community danced into the night to disrupt the visit of a controversial anti-gay preacher who was baptizing at #sunsetbeach pic.twitter.com/fvIRPZA7mW
— Meera Bains (@Meerakati) September 1, 2020
When they learned that a preacher known for loudly demonizing and harassing LGBTQ people was planning to perform baptisms at Sunset Beach Park on Monday evening, members of the group Alternative Pride showed up in droves with rainbow flags and loud music to drown out the hate.
The beach baptisms were a stop on David Lynn‘s Cross-Canada Tour (actually more of a three-province Western Canada tour) which kicked off over the weekend in Victoria, British Columbia. Promotional materials focus on God’s call for repentance, and the people of the West End hold no illusions about what Lynn thinks they should be repenting for.
Lynn is not the man whose constant hateful speech, amplified by megaphone, has been echoing across the West End throughout the summer. That would be the ironically named Dorre Love, who put a West-End resident in the hospital last week.
But Love was once a member of David Lynn’s Toronto-based Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries, and it shows. After the altercation in Vancouver made headlines, Lynn tried to distance himself and his ministry from Love, who pleaded for help from “Pastor David” on his YouTube channel:
Dorre Love attended Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries for a brief time and has not been a part of Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries for roughly two to three years, and his ministry, methodology, and teachings [are] not affiliated or associated with Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries. Dorre has his own ministry… We are not affiliated.
All that is a distinction without a difference to the people of Vancouver’s West End, and rightly so. In Toronto’s queer community, Lynn is known for his megaphone-amplified preaching and his habit of staging anti-LGBTQ protests at the heart of the city’s gay village.
In the West End, that sounds mighty familiar.
It’s a simple non-violent solution — drown out hate with happy sounds — but it also serves to make a sharper point: Measures like the “Dance Against Hate” are necessary because the people of the West End can’t rely on police to protect them. Local activist Colin McKenna, who serves as president of PFLAG Vancouver, says the police have consistently allowed anti-LGBTQ preachers to harass the community:
The police have done very little, if anything, about it, which includes enforcing noise bylaws. They’ve left us unsafe for months and unfortunately at this point we’ve had to take it into our own hands. We have to make a statement and make sure the city knows that the police know we’re not putting up with it anymore.
The statement is non-violent, he adds, to demonstrate what peace and love really look like. But it’s also true that members of the LGBTQ community may not be able to count on the same forbearance Lynn, Love, and those like them take as their due. Says Imitiaz Popiat of the Coalition Against Bigotry–Pacific:
So [David Lynn]’s promoting hate and the police is actually protecting him. We wanted to block him from coming here, but the police protected him and allowed him to come and do this baptism. Where is the law? We’re not protected.
Spokespeople for the Vancouver Police Department insisted they surrounded Lynn to protect protesters and avoid escalation into criminal activity. Technically Lynn was not breaking the law by performing baptisms.
That argument doesn’t come across as especially sympathetic to the people who’ve spent months being harassed by bigots in their own homes. The police have taken an approach that leaves LGBTQ people without recourse to tell aggressive Bible-bashers they aren’t welcome in community spaces. The last thing most of these people need or want is to be told yet again that they’re going to hell for the way they live and love.
If you can’t show the haters the door, what’s left but to drown them out?
(Featured screenshot via Facebook. Thanks to Richard for the link)